Stretching is as important to your health as a healthy diet and frequent exercising is. Stretching should be incorporated into your daily routine for added range of motion, injury prevention, and flexibility. Quite often, stretching is as misunderstood as something performed solely by gymnasts or runners. In fact, for building muscles and being fit, you have to be flexible, which is only possible by stretching your body.
Regular stretching also leads to better posture fewer pains and sprains in muscles and joints. Peggy Hall, who is a wellness expert says, “Stretching is very important. It helps to increase blood flow and circulation that sends more oxygen to your brain for a fresh mind and pleasant mood.”
So, don’t be like those individuals who finish their workout on the treadmill and get to work without even stretching after their workouts.
The following 7 types of stretching can be done. Some people prefer certain types over others, you just have to find which works for you, but ensure that you take care and go slow with any type of stretching.
1. Isometric Stretching
This is the type of stretching in which a muscle is stretched against resistance. To do this, you need a partner to help you out. Let your partner hold your leg up and you try to push your leg, in its stretched-out position, against your partner. In simple, resist the stretch.
This type of stretching is considered the most effective and safest way of increasing flexibility and range of motion. It also helps to strengthen your tendons and ligaments and lowers the risk of injury.
2. Ballistic Stretching
This type of stretching involves bouncing or small movements. Some fitness professionals discourage this type of stretching, especially at the intermediate level, as it may result in some injuries. The safest way to do ballistic stretching is to perform it after static stretching and gradually increase your velocity.
3. Static Stretching
Static stretching, or active static, focuses on a specific muscle and stretching it to maximum tension and holding that tension for about 30 seconds. This can be done on your own. You simply need to apply tension on different muscle areas.
A great example is to sit on the floor with your legs in front of you and then pull your toes back to stretch your hamstrings and calves. Remember to hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then gradually release it.
4. Passive Stretching
It is used by professional massage therapists, trainers, and athletes but you can also try it at home using the right strategy. You’ll need a partner or an apparatus to provide the force of stretching the muscles.
This is similar to isometric stretching, however, here you don’t resist the stretch. An example would be standing against the wall and your partner lifts up your leg for stretching the hamstrings. This will help to relieve muscle spasm and reduce the fatigue, which is common after a workout.
5. PNF Stretching
If you want to increase the static passive flexibility dramatically, then PNF is one of the best ways to go. PNF is short for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation and is a combination of isometric and passive stretching.
This involves stretching a muscle group passively and then contracting isometrically against isometric contraction. This will help to increase the range of motion of joints and can be easily performed without a partner. However, having someone to help you is recommended.
6. Myofascial Release
This is the type of stretching bodybuilders often use before they start their workout. You need a foam roller, approximately 2-3 feet long.
You need to place the foam roller on the floor and place the area you wish to target over it, apply pressure by using your bodyweight, and roll back and forth. It gives the sensation of a deep tissue massage.
7. Dynamic Stretching
The last type of stretching is a dynamic stretch that athletes commonly perform and it mimics the movement pattern of various activities. For example, very slow strides similar to a running lunge motion.
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